By Emeka Nwachukwu
There’s hardly any Nigerian who is oblivious of the current happenings in Edo’s political corridor. But flipping through the pages of The Guardian of Monday, June 15, 2020, anyone who has followed the issues from a distance will naturally query the rationale behind the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s unshaken resolve to oust the incumbent governor and former ally, Godwin Obaseki.
On the Property Page ‘19’ of the aforementioned national daily, with the headline ‘Economic Uncertainty Triggers Demand For Warehouse Space”, the writer in a bid to beautify the page as well as give pictorial illustration to his story, signposted the new look of Edo State under the leadership of the current governor with the caption, ‘an aerial view of Benin in Edo State’.
The view which captures some of the ongoing massive infrastructural projects of the Obaseki-led administration succeeded in not only getting the attention of readers but also impelling political observers into wondering why a few persons, for their selfish interest, will fight tooth and nail to stutter the progress of a state and its people.
But as commonly used in tort law, ‘res ipsa loquitur’, the fact will continue to speak for itself. Edo people are obviously aware of the development trajectory which the Obaseki-led government has pursued over the course of the last three and a half years and are determined to ensure the re-election of the governor to consolidate on his many projects across the state.
For the sake of a discerning few who may not be in the know to why this is a feat considered audaciously remarkable. Hitherto, newspaper illustrations, apart from pictures of persons, are landmark buildings and exquisite city views (downloaded from the online media) that are mostly foreign images as there are only a few such sights in Nigeria.
It is therefore enviable to see the aerial view of Benin City taking the high-class view position of Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa; Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; KL Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Sky 100 (International Commerce centre), Hong Kong, China; Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France; Sky Garden, London, UK; Empire State New York, United States; US Bank Tower Building, Los Angeles, United States and the Galería Güemes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, among others of this world.
This obviously is made possible through the methodological manner in which the governor piloted the affairs of the state and bringing a new sense of urgency to the drive for development which has now grown the status of the state as a model for others to follow. Today, Edo has become a model for development at the sub-national level in developing countries. Avoiding the shenanigans of petty politics, the governor in what could be described as a systematic and frugal allocation of scarce resources, is rewriting the state’s story through pragmatic policy reforms, programmes and initiatives.
Students of history will not forget in a hurry how Oshiomhole fought godfatherism in Edo State and how governor Obaseki, having served meritoriously as the Chairman of the Economic Team under Oshiomhole, emerged the governor of Edo State.
Adams Oshiomole, who was once a labour leader had leveraged on his strong activism, gained popularity and took a shot at the governorship seat of the state. He cashed in on the gullibility of the workers whom he fought relentlessly and courageously for their welfare and sought the people’s mandate to govern Edo state. The comrade lost the election because he didn’t enjoy the support of the godfathers like the Igbenedions of this world. Eventually, he got his mandate reclaimed through judicial proclamations and he governed the state for eight years without the interference of any godfather in the state.
Towards the tail end of his administration, Oshiomole brought in Godwin Obaseki and sold the technocrat and renowned financial expert to the people of Edo state. The former governor sang the songs of praises of his then political baby, which appeared too good to be ignored by the voters and when he emerged, it dawned on him that there was a need to focus on the real business of governance in the state rather than politics. If this man was presented to Edo people on account of his commendable performance on the economic team, one would wonder what then has changed since the governor has continued to deliver the dividends of democracy to the majority of Edo people.
Since 2016 when Obaseki emerged the Edo State Governor, he has changed the narrative of governance and introduced technocracy in the system. He brought his wealth of knowledge and experience as an expert and these obviously didn’t go down well with his predecessor and godfather who wanted things to always go his own way.
Oshiomole has since then sought various means of getting at the governor and frustrating his efforts but to no avail. Oshiomhole, who now sits as the National Chairman of the ruling party is hellbent on using the party as his instrument of retaliation to frustrate the reelection bid of Obaseki against the wishes of a majority of Edo people who are direct beneficiaries of the governor’s transformational strides.
This culminated in the charade done by the committee set up by the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee that disqualified Governor Obaseki from contesting the governorship election under the platform of the APC. The governor, knowing that he has the full support of Edo people has resigned from the ruling party to seek his bid for a second term in office on another platform. One would begin to wonder why Oshiomhole is trying to reinstitute the godfatherism he once chastised.
For the majority of Edo people, the issues are clear; the governor is being fought by enemies of the state because he refused to share the patrimony and resources of Edo State amongst a predatory group of godfathers and political thugs.
The fisticuff is not about Governor Obaseki alone; it’s about the future of Edo State and her people who once joined the ‘new godfather’ to rid Edo State of all forms of godfatherism. Luckily, the choice as to who governs the state in the next four years remains in the hands of Edo people, not some greedy and desperate politicians. The 2020 elections in Edo will be tough, not because of the party’s aspirants but because it is between Edo people and the locusts
Nwachukwu is a media expert and public opinion analyst